Armchair Field Trip: Stearns Wharf


I just got back from a week in Ojai, CA, a destination worthy of its own post. But we're going to focus on a stop my wife and I (and our nearly-two-year-old son) made at Stearns Wharf, in Santa Barbara, CA. If you haven't been, this is the oldest working pier in California.

Built in 1872 by a lumber tycoon named John P. Stearns, the pier held the distinction of being the longest deep-water pier between L.A. and San Fran during the late 1800s, a pretty important fact given the dearth of railroads.

It served cargo ships, mostly, and then, during prohibition, rumrunners and gamblers on floating casinos. Ultimately, it was turned into a naval installation during WWII. (Santa Barbara was actually hit by enemy fire during the war!).

Also during the war, the Harbor Restaurant opened, and it's still in business today. We thought about having a nosh there, but my son was overwhelmed by the pelicans and fishermen.

Today, it's all mostly a tourist trap, and you can drive your car on the pier and buy candy, overpriced chachkies, and watch the pelican kickboxing matches. Oh, what? You don't believe me?

We caught a bit of the illegal activity on our little HD flip camera.